Word Wallahs Willingly Welcome W

"Do you spell that with a single V or a double V?" - one of those puzzling questions foreigners often hear from Swedes. But perhaps not for much longer.

The Swedish Academy, the august institution that rules over the Swedish language, has decided for the first time that Vs and Ws should be split up.

The new edition of the Swedish Academy’s Word List is the first to catalogue words beginning with W separately from the Vs.

V and W in Swedish are both pronounced like an English V, and most words containing W are imports from other languages, particularly German and English.

Until now, Swedish dictionaries have listed both letters together, but the arrival of large numbers of new English-derived words such as ‘webb’ (web), and ‘wannabe’ have tipped the balance in favour of separate listings.

The influence of English was also evident in the new words the academy included in the word list. ‘Blogg’ (blog), ‘cookie’ and ‘interface’ show the influence of computer-English, although ‘new age’ and ‘muzak’ are now also officially-approved Swedish.

English is no the only language to be contributing to modern Swedish. French has given ‘brioche’, and Italian has lent ‘pesto’ to enrich the Swedish tongue.

The Swedish language’s propensity to create compound words has led to other new entries. ‘Försvarsnedladdning’ (defence force closures), ‘miljöanpassa’ (to adapt for the environment), and ‘torskkvot’ (cod quota), reflect some of Sweden’s hot political questions.

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The Local